photo © dejan mrdja
Ben Harper, Boring Like A Drill, Sep 2020
The two musicians play with an evenness and interior calm that makes the music’s formal structure and changes in instrumentation flow naturally without apparent effort. They make it all seem inevitable, even as the outcomes remain unknown, with a transparency that makes their playing inseparable from the music. [...] The inventive use of instrumentation adds depth and complexity, while the duet form of the piece gives clarity. Together, they manage to combine the bright and the plaintive into an indivisible whole. It feels like a piece that will continue to grow and change for the listener, even as a single recording.
Tom Service, BBC Radio 3 New Music Show, Mar 2020
KONTAKTE radio spot
Together they unfurl Stockhausen's new worlds of contact – new in 1960 and still viscerally contemporary sixty years later – across electronics and the acoustic realm of percussion and piano, in new dimensions. This recording turns space into sound, and vice versa […] a landmark performance.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian, Nov 2019
Album of the week
Percussionist Barton and pianist Rhys’s binaural recording adds another dimension to Stockhausen’s textures and reveals his musical thinking
[…] that vivid, spatial element of the work emerges with startling immediacy in this first binaural recording of the electro-acoustic version, with percussionist George Barton and pianist Siwan Rhys. Heard through headphones, their performance gives a tingling sense of the aural perspectives that played such an important role in Stockhausen’s musical thinking at that time, […] it shows how the electronically generated timbres and live sounds come into “contact” in the score, and how the one can emerge from or merge with the other. High-frequency electronic tones seamlessly elide with crotales and sizzling cymbals, or mingle with the harmonics from a tam-tam, while low-frequency pulses can be matched with the lower registers of the piano. The textures change like the colours in a kaleidoscope […] Barton and Rhys prove perfect guides to all these complexities; there may already be a number of recordings of this remarkable work, but theirs adds an extra dimension to it, both literally and metaphorically.
Marc Medwin, dusted magazine, Dec 2020
The musicianship is impeccable, and it is a testament as much to percussionist George Barton and pianist Siwan Rhys’ subtle virtuosity as to Leith’s investment in same that this fragmentarily cinematic piece works as well as it does. Listen to how beautifully, how seamlessly and sensitively, percussion and orchestral samples merge at the section beginning around 18:06, bringing that tune-up to a whole other level with a crystalline halo of bell and upper-frequency buzz. Rhys often channels the filigreed instincts guiding 1940s Messiaen piano music, and there’s no sound that Barton executes with anything less than delicacy; reference his intricately simple marimba at 26:30 or whatever those shimmering percussives might be, fading in at 33:37 and dominating the next two minutes.
Kate Molleson, BBC Radio 3 New Music Show, Mar 2020
good day good day bad day bad day radio spot
Bewitching [...] I've listened to [good day good day bad day bad day] an awful lot since it arrived in my inbox and I am enchanted afresh every single time.
John Eyles, All About Jazz, Oct 2020
It is difficult to know who deserves the greater praise for good day good day bad day bad day, the composer or the performers [...] This recording [...] features Barton on percussion and Rhys on piano and electric keyboard, the empathy between the two being tangible as they complement one another perfectly throughout. Leith wrote the piece with Barton and Rhys in mind [...] they sound ideally suited to it and vice versa. Leith and GBSR deserve equal credit for the success of this piece, which indicates that we shall be hearing far more from all three of them in years to come.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian, Oct 2020
Barton and Rhys took on the formidable technical challenges of Arne Gieshoff’s Spillikins, elusive and quicksilver to start, becoming sparser and becalmed as it went on.
Ian Parsons, PBS Radio Australia The Sound Barrier, October 2019
George and Siwan's work in integrating their own acoustic sounds with those of electronic music tape is sensational, to the extent where their resonance as part of a single, though multi-layered, whole is astonishing. It is a demanding work because of the precision it requires of the soloists – not only because of their need to synchronise with the tape, but also because of their need to control the timbres and dynamics of their own playing so deftly. […] These two incredible soloists meet the challenges of this sensational work with relish and vigour. They find their way through its perpetually shifting sounds and tensions, its constantly changing moments of sound shapes and colours, in a way that breathes the sort of life and energy into this work that really demands exactly this. It is not a piece that builds to a single climax, or follows a straight trajectory. It is about movement, about things shifting and changing one another. To make it work, the artists have to match the tape's whirlpool of living sound, to marry themselves to its mercurial energy. When you immerse yourself into the sound of this new recording, you too are swept up in that energy.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian, Oct 2020
Each of [good day...'s] eight movements focuses on a single musical idea, some deliberately commonplace, others that are insidiously repetitive. There are moments of unexpected grandeur alongside sheer banality, yet somehow the mixture is curiously addictive.
Caroline Potter, I care if you listen, Dec 2019
GBSR Duo Play Feldman Tributes and New British Music in London
Barbara Monk Feldman was represented with her Duo […] with both Barton and Rhys completely inhabiting the sound world and exhibiting ideal precision. […] so smol by CHAINES […] was funky and skewed, rarely allowing the listener to settle into one rhythm […] It was captivating […]
Oliver Sellwood’s Alias States […] turned into a great vehicle for showing off the virtuosity of the GBSR duo. […]
The most striking of the new works was Nicholas Moroz’s Intralatent, recently premiered at Huddersfield. As Rhys prepared the piano, placing objects on the strings, recorded sound started; had the piece begun? Barton’s virtuoso bongo entrance marked another possible opening of a piece that was a real celebration of sonority. The piano preparation brought out unsuspected harmonics, enhanced by an electronic halo, and the confrontation between the human, earthy world of the bongos and the distorted, ethereal piano was scintillating. […] Striking, stroking, and beating metal, clasping and unclasping the noise tree, Barton engaged fully with this most tactile of pieces. Moroz’s sheer love of sound was the abiding memory of the piece. [...]
In the GBSR Duo, this [piano and percussion] combination has persuasive champions who are already commissioning exciting new repertoire.
Paul Conway, Musical Opinion, Oct 2019
One of this festival’s most surprising and memorable concerts […] Making imaginative use of its prudently selected resources, Soliton made a powerful impact, thanks in part to the clarity of the composer’s intentions but also due to committed advocacy from the two players. […]
Boudica, for percussion and piano by Gregory Rose […] performed at white heat and with the greatest vehemence […] was delivered with the utmost virtuosity and scrupulous fidelity to the score by both performers. […]
In sum, this very enjoyable and wide-ranging collection of pieces emphasised the sheer range of sounds open to the featured instrumental forces. All seven works were superbly played by the GBSR Duo.
David Truslove, Wales Arts Review, Aug 2019
The first of two contrasting concerts I heard on Day Five was a ‘tasting menu’ for piano and percussion […] each work’s individuality made a singular impact such was the variety of conception and material. […] It was with Gregory Rose’s Boudica (also being premiered) that Barton showed his percussion playing prowess in a ‘bells and whistles’ work […]A veritable battery of percussion was pressed into service for this strenuous workout, arresting to hear and watch in equal measure. […] Joe Duddell’s scintillating Parallel Lines […] sustained my attention with its ten-minute assault course for the tireless Barton and Rhys.
New Dots review, Jun 2014
Using just two performers – percussionist George Barton and pianist Siwan Rhys – presented the young composers with an interesting array of resources, and a very accomplished pair of musicians, with which to create new sounds […] a great insight into the potential for anything to be considered percussion, and what great opportunities this presents to composers.